Manchester United’s Europa League loss to Liverpool will have hurt—not just because of the rivalry between the two clubs, but also the toothless way the Red Devils played. The Undead LVG stumbles on apparently impervious to sacking, and United are sleepwalking their way to the end of the season. West Ham have managed victories against Spurs and Everton in their last two matches and could be considered favourites to win again, regardless of being the visitors. Slaven Bilic has gotten the Hammers playing deadly attacking football, aided by the form of Antonio and the sublime skill of Dimitri Payet. European football, whether it be Europa or Champions would be a just reward for a great season.
Blind has done good work for United this season, despite their poor results at times. When he was shifted from midfield to central defence many observers questioned the move, but it has helped to have a defender capable with the ball at his feet. It says something about the injuries and quality of United’s defenders that a midfielder is better than most of them. Whoever the new manager in the summer is, one of their first priorities has to be figuring out how to fix a leaky back line.
Sometimes a player arrives in the Premier League seemingly out of nowhere. Obviously Ligue 1 doesn’t get much coverage in the UK, but a player of outstanding quality often makes the papers—the likes of Eden Hazard when he was at Lille, for instance. Dimitri Payet will have been unknown to most when he arrived, but he has been one of the signings of the season and shows no sign of slowing down. If the Hammers hadn’t lost him to injury over the winter period, it’s not hard to imagine them being even higher in the table. Payet scored the winning goal as West Ham fought back from 0-2 against Everton, a win that showed phenomenal team spirit and work ethic.
The winger’s form continues, with three goals in three games, MotM in two of them. Fantastic stamina and some good finishes have catapulted Antonio into the limelight in recent weeks. The Red Devils will have their work cut out containing the Englishman, especially considering how much difficulty they had against Liverpool midweek.
David De Gea
But for some fax machine hijinks, Manchester United would have lost their goalkeeper and talisman to Madrid over the summer. If they had, they would surely be doing even worse than they are now. The number of outstanding saves the Spaniard has made this season has been overshadowed by Manchester United’s poor play. De Gea will have to be at his best to keep out a West Ham side in outstanding form.